•Talks given by dog experts and demonstrations
of different dog jobs
• Different dog breeds and groups that rescue them
• Owning, caring for and training a dog
One of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's more
well known exhibits is Balto. Balto was the Husky who led the dog team
Nome Alaska bringing life saving serum during a diphtheria outbreak.
Balto was the lead dog of the final sled team that raced through hurricane-force
winds and minus-50-degree temperatures to bring serum to the diphtheria
stricken town of Nome, Alaska, in 1925.
Balto and the other dogs became international heroes, but the glory showered
on them was short-lived. Within a year, the dog team, including Balto, was lost
in the world of vaudeville sideshows, and the whirl of the roaring twenties.
On a visit to Los Angeles, a Cleveland businessman discovered the dogs
in a "dime-a-look" museum.
For the fee of 10 cents, visitors (men only) were allowed into the back
room where the dogs were on display. As an animal lover, the businessman
that the dogs were ill and mistreated. He knew the history of the famous
A bargain was struck to buy the dogs and bring them to Cleveland. The deal was
to raise $2,000 in two weeks. With the help of the local media, Cleveland's response
Cleveland public school children collected coins in buckets; factory workers
passed the hat; hotels, stores and visitors donated what they could to the Balto
fund. The Western Reserve Kennel Club added a needed financial boost and the
money was raised in 10 days.
On March 19, 1927, Balto and six companions (Tillie, Fox, Sye, Billy, Old Moctoc
and Alaska Slim) were triumphantly brought to Cleveland and given a heroes' welcome
in a parade through Public Square to City Hall. The honored dogs were then taken
to Brookside Zoo (now the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo) where they lived out their
lives in dignity. Approximately 15,000 people visited them the first day.
Balto died March 14, 1933, at the age of 11. The body was mounted at The Cleveland
Museum of Natural History, where it has been kept as a reminder of his gallant
race against death.
Karen says that as a side note, my great grandfather
was a keeper at the Zoo and took care of Balto. I grew up with
the story of Balto, so this picture is especially meaningful to me.